A third report has been published by NYAS in the secure children’s homes for welfare research series. Our series is looking at the challenges that young people face when they enter into this type of accommodation, and the improvements that need to be made to secure children’s homes across England and Wales.

What are secure children’s homes?

Secure children’s homes provide care and accommodation for young people in vulnerable situations. In this accommodation, their liberty is often restricted due to concerns for their welfare.

Young people can be placed into secure children’s homes under a Section 25 welfare order, which is made under the Children Act 1989. This allows local authorities to place young people in secure children’s homes if they have a history of running away from previous accommodation or are likely to cause harm to either themselves or others around them.

Secure children’s homes should be seen as a last resort, and the decision to place young people here should not be taken lightly.

What has this report found?

This report looks at what is already known about the inspection ratings of secure children’s homes. Currently, there are 13 secure children’s homes in England, and one in Wales. This is a significant drop from the 29 that were open in 2002.

Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) is responsible for inspecting the standard of secure children’s homes in England. The report shows that there has been a slight improvement in ratings across the 13 homes in England since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

It must, however, be recognised that Ofsted ratings of this type of secure care are not an accurate reflection of the quality of care seen. Recent children’s rights abuses have been uncovered in homes rated as ‘good’, therefore the rating cannot be relied upon to determine the actual care that a child is receiving.

The report also highlights that the inspection ratings for criminal justice secure units has significantly declined, with the average rating being ‘requires improvement’. The list of children who are waiting for availability in a secure children’s home has doubled in the last year, with COVID-19 an influencing factor.

NYAS believes that more should be done by the state to intervene at an earlier stage to prevent children needing to go into secure children’s homes.


You can read the full report in Welsh and English here: